Best of PI - Proofs

Fall 1990 Color Proofs: Pitfalls and Opportunities

Proofs for covers and jackets have been a problem for book printers for as long as we've printed covers and jackets. In cover and jacket printing, there are basically three kinds of pre-press proofs available and there are limitations to each. The following are our ideas of the strengths and weaknesses of the available proofs for covers and jackets.

Blues: A blue of a 2-color cover will show you how the art registers but not which color goes where. It is inexpensive, costing about $10, and is probably used more than the other two combined. We do not use blues of 4-color process art. For these we automatically make color keys.

Color key: A color key of a 4-color cover is usually going to be adequate for most people's purposes. It is also useful for the press operator as they can check and see what any combination of the four process colors should look like. It costs about $40 for a 4-color cover and half that for a color key of a 2-color cover.

Most of the covers and jackets we print, however, are two or three color and here's where the color key comes up short. There are a thousand or so PMS colors available but color keys only come in a small number of them. We stock color key film in the four process colors plus nine separate PMS colors. Thus, it's very likely your 2-color color key will not be in the PMS color you specified. Your black and green cover may be black and blue in the color key. You can tell registration and reproduction clarity pretty well with a color key but you're not likely to see the correct colors.

Chromalin: This proof will, or should, always match the PMS color of your cover or jacket but it is expensive. A 4-color chromalin, where you are most apt to see this proof used, costs about $65 and it will show you a closer representation of the printed piece than a color key. Chromalin colors are fairly limited but virtually the whole range of PMS colors can be duplicated by mixing them. Because of this mixing complication, a chromalin of a black and one color cover is the same price as a 4-color chromalin and for a chromalin of two PMS colors, the cost is going to go up to about $120.

Chromalins of 2-color covers are very rare. Chromalins of 4-color covers are getting more popular all the time. For 4-color covers and jackets, it is our "proof of choice," but since it is a bit more costly than a color key, you will have to specify it if you want one.

Saving the good news for last, Kodak, DuPont and some of their competitors are working on a new color proofing system that will eventually replace the current technology with an inexpensive color proof that handles everyone's needs. This breakthrough is not here yet ... at least not an affordable breakthrough ... but we understand that a year or so from now, something should be available.

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Spring 1994 Cover / Jacket Proofs

Whether you ask for it or not, on covers and jackets with three or more PMS colors, we automatically send a color key proof. We believe you should have a chance to see the color breaks and the color fit on your covers and jackets and a blueline will not adequately do this for more than two colors. If your cover or jacket is 4-color process, we will send a chromalin proof instead of a color key but chromalin proofs are not practical for PMS colors so we use the color key for them.

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